BAHRAIN: Release Maryam Al-Khawaja and end clampdown on civil society in Bahrain

Urgent Appeal

Joint global civil society letter:


18 September 2014

HM Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King

Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain

Dear King Hamad,

We, the undersigned 155 civil society organisations based in over 60 countries write to you united in our condemnation of the politically motivated arrest of human rights defender and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja at Manama airport on 30 August 2014. We urge that Maryam is immediately and unconditionally released.

We believe that Maryam Al-Khawaja is being persecuted for exercising her legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association in the defence of fundamental freedoms including her co-operation with international institutions and her important role in documenting human rights violations in Bahrain. We stand in solidarity with Maryam and all other human rights defenders wrongly imprisoned by your government for their work and beliefs.

We remind you that the harassment, intimidation or stigmatization of a human rights defender, including arrest, detention, trial or imprisonment for reasons of the opinions they may hold, constitute a serious violation of Bahrain’s obligations under international law.

We remain concerned that since the pro-democracy protests intensified in February 2011 your government has deliberately subverted democratic freedoms using a combination of legal and extra-legal measures involving politically motivated prosecutions, brutal crackdowns on protests and silencing expressions of dissent in the print and online media. Many have raised the concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of pro-democracy activists and their being subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention centres across Bahrain.

At the UN Human Rights Council, during Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2012 your government agreed to protect human rights defenders and allow them to conduct their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment. On 5 September 2014, a group of United Nations independent human rights experts also demanded Maryam Al-Khawaja’s release, and urged you to follow through on your commitments made during the UPR to end the persecution of all human rights defenders in Bahrain. We support Maryam’s courage and strength for advocating for democratic change.

We urge your government to recognise the legitimate demands of the Bahraini people for their rights and end the cycle of protest and repression. We thus call upon you to begin a process of democratic reform, healing and reconciliation in Bahrain. Key steps towards achieving the above would be to release all detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience and cease the oppression of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations.


African Life Center – USA

African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh) - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Aithria Agro-Environmental Research and Action Team – Greece

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) - Bangladesh

Aman Network for Rehabilitation & Defending Human Rights – United Kingdom

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) – USA

Andalus institute for tolerance & Anti-violence studies – Egypt

Arab Network for Democratic Elections – Lebanon

Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) – Lebanon

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) – Egypt


Asian Human Rights Commission – Hong Kong

Asian Press Institute – Sri Lanka

Association Dea Dia from Serbia - Serbia

Association for Progressive Communications – South Africa

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) -Canada

Association Transparence et Développement (ATED) – Mauritania

Avocats Sans Frontières Network – France

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) – Bahrain

Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO) - Bahrain

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) – United Kingdom

Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti Violence Organization (BRAVO) - Bahrain

Bahrain Salam for Human Rights – United Kingdom

Baidarie Pakistan – Pakistan

Belgrade Center for Human Rights - Serbia

Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ – Krygzistan

Building More Future Opportunities and Capacities (BMFOCA) – Nigeria

Burundi Child Rights Coalition (BCRC)– Burundi

Bytes for All – Pakistan

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) - Egypt

Campaign Against Ignorance & Illiteracy (CAII) - Nigeria

Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) – Cambodia

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) – Canada

Center for Peace Education - USA

Center for National and International Studies (CNIS) – Azerbaijan

Center International Training for Human Rights and Development – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Center of studies on Justice and Resolution of 1325 – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Charity and Security Network - USA

Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea – United Kingdom

Civic Initiatives – Serbia

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation - South Africa

Civil Rights Defenders - Sweden

Coalition pour le Development et la Rehabiniltation Social (CODR UBUNTU) – Burundi

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) – South Sudan

Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile du Togo (CNSC Togo) - Togo

Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE) – Colombia

Counseling Center for Transgender People Association – Turkey

Danish PEN – Denmark

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) – Philippines

Democracy Monitor – Azerbaijan

Diverse Voices and Action for Equality - Fiji

East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project - Uganda

Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms – Egypt

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) - Egypt

Elma7rosa Network for Advocacy Media& Arts - Egypt

English PEN – UK

Ethiopian Human Rights Project - Ethiopia

European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) – Switzerland

European Women’s Lobby – Belgium

European Saudi Organizations for Human Rights - Germany

Federation of African Muslim Women in America (FAMWA) – USA

Families of Desaparecidos for Justice - Philippines

Foundation of The Victims Of Abduction And Forced Disappearance (FVAFD) – Egypt

Fontaine-ISOKO for Good Governance and Integrated Development- Burundi

Freedom International – Ghana

FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, France

Freedom House – USA

Freddom Now - USA

Frontline Defenders – Ireland

Ghanaian Centre of PEN International - Ghana

Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) –USA

Groupe des Experts Nationaux - Madagascar

Gulf Civil Society Association Forum - Kuwait

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) - Lebanon

Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly – Turkey

Human Rights Center "Viasna" – Belarus

Human Rights Concern Eritrea – United Kingdom

Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS) – Netherlands

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – USA

International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) - Egypt

International Commission of Jurists – Switzerland

International Pen, San Miguel Chapter – Mexico

International Service for Human Rights - Switzerland

International Solidarity Network Women Living Under Muslim Laws - USA

International Youth Human Rights Movement – Russia

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) – UK

Lualua Centre for Human Rights(LCHR) - Lebanon

Justice for Iran (JFI) – United Kingdom

KAOS GL – Turkey

Karapatan Alliance - Philippines

Khiam Rehabilitation Center For Victims of Torture – Lebanon

Kitgum Women Peace Initiative (KIWEPI) - Uganda

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) – Serbia

Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (LDGL) – Democratic Republic of Congo

Ligue Algerienne Pour la Defense des Droits de l (LADDH) - Algeria

Maharat Foundation – Lebanon

Martin Ennals Foundation – Switzerland

MENA Monitoring Group - Tunisia

Middle East Democracy (POMED) – USA

Mpalabanda - Associacao Civica de Cabinda - Angola

Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de Puerto Rico – USA

Monitoring of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia

Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum – Sri Lanka

Nasra for Feminist Studies – Egypt

New Bakkah Foundation – Switzerland

National Lawyers Guild - USA

National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms - Yemen

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) – Somalia

No Peace Without Justice – Italy

World Organisation Against Torture, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – Switzerland

Pacific Feminist SRHR Coalition – Australia

Palestinian Conflict Resolution / Transformation Center – Palestine

PEN Center – Nicaragua

PEN American Center – USA

PEN International - USA

PEN International Women Writers Committee – Egypt

Policy Center – Serbia

Pusat Komas - Malaysia

Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) - France

Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) – Cameroon

Right Defenders Lawyers & Consultants (RDLC) – Pakistan

Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association - Turkey

Shia Rights Watch - USA

Social And Human Development Consultative Groups (SAHDCG) – Sudan

South African Centre of PEN International –South Africa

Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelle – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Secularism Is a Women’s Issue – UK

Society of Former Political Prisoners Against Arrest and Detention in the Philippines – Philippines

South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) – South Sudan

Synergie des Associations Feminines du Congo - Democratic Republic of the Congo

131. Swiss Italian PEN – Switzerland

132. Tanzania Human rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) – Tanzania

133. Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA) - Uganda

134. The Training Nest - Sri Lanka

135. Three Cities Foundation – Malta

136. Trans-der – Turkey

137. Transparency International – Bangladesh

138. Ucan Supurge Women’s Association – Turkey

139. Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) – Zambia

140. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights - USA

141. Un Ponte Per- Italy

142. Union Nacional de Instituciones para el trabajo de accion Socilal – Bolivia

143. Vivarta - UK

144. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) - Togo

145. Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) – Liberia

146. Women Peace Initiatives-Uganda (WOPI-U) - Uganda

147. Women and Allies Peace Builders Network – Burundi

148. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) – Philippines

149. Women’s Resource Center – Pakistan

150. Women’s Solidarity Fund – UK

151. World Movement for Democracy - USA

152. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) – Zambia

153. Zeugmadi LGBT- Turkey

154. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum – Zimbabwe

155. 1325 Policy Group – Sweden

Read more